By Magatshana Ntuli
Mainstream South African media’s naked positional reporting was laid bare following Thursday’s Constutional Court (ConCourt)’s secret ballot ruling in the no confidence vote against President Jacob Zuma.
The main applicant in the matter, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) had approached the ConCourt seeking an order compelling Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete to hold the no confidence vote in the president via secret ballot.
However, the ConCourt ruled that such a call could only be made by the Speaker. To quote from the judgement, “the United Democratic Movement’s request for a motion of no confidence in the President to be decided by secret ballot is remitted to the Speaker for her to make a fresh decision”.
Mbete’s initial decision was that she did not have the constitutional powers or discretion to allow for a secret ballot, but the court ruled on Thursday that she actual has the powers to make such a call.
But our mainstream media, which is now deeply and openly embedded in opposition parties’ machinations to dislodge the ANC from power at all costs, chose to confuse readers, viewers and listeners in reporting the outcome.
Instead of simply informing us that the UDM-led opposition alliance’s ConCourt bid to order Mbete to use a secret ballot in the no confidence vote had failed, the media settled for the weird “victory for democracy” storyline pronounced by the “defeated” parties.
There is no doubt that had the ConCourt granted the secret ballot application, that would have triggered screaming headlines across media platforms. But because that desperately sought-after request failed, the media chose to ignore its importance and help opposition parties celebrate a rather hollow victory in which the ConCourt ruled that Mbete was mistaken to think that she does not have the constitutional powers and discretion to allow for a secret ballot.
Honestly, what is there to celebrate? The court provided constitutional clarity on something previous Speakers never faced and corrected Mbete’s genuine mistaken belief.
This was a straightforward story that only the Speaker can decide whether the vote of no confidence is done through open or secret ballot.
Is our media now confused by words to allow the opposition to celebrate non-victories? Why wasn’t UDM leader Bantu Holomisa not pressed to explain his feeling vindicated by the ruling comments when it was clear he didn’t get his intended outcome? The only thing he seems to have won are the costs, which the court ordered Mbete and Zuma to bear. He failed in his main bid to have the ConCourt prescribe to Mbete what voting formula to use.
Never content with watching others making ridiculous comments, DA leader Mmusi Maimane also forced focus on himself by declaring that his party’s vote in the no confidence motion would be no secret. “Regardless of today’s ruling by the Constitutional Court, the Democratic Alliance’s vote in the upcoming Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma will be no secret. The DA will vote to fire Jacob Zuma – and we call on every other Member of Parliament, from all political parties, to do the same,” Maimane said on Thursday.
Again, he was allowed to get away with it because his utterances suit their choreographed regime change script in which the media is the megaphone.
Why push for a secret ballot when you don’t believe in it in the first place? Why should ANC MPs be subjected to secret ballots when the DA is openly declaring that their will be no secret voting by its MPs?
Why then is ANC lampooned for imploring its MPs to defend Zuma, while Maimane is allowed to urge other MPs to follow the DA in its quest to remove the president?
Why is it that the DA is allowed to whip its MPs to tow the party line, but when the ANC does the same, the media and opposition parties in unison call it intimidation?
So ANC MPs have no consciences and only voting with the opposition is proof that they have a conscience? What an insult!
This is what happens when impotent hatred spreads and paralyses the mind for logical thought. If conscience is what matters, why do political parties have manifestos? No MP is in parliament because of their conscience. They were all deployed to fulfill their political parties’ manifestos.
Even judges on the bench don’t follow their consciences, but precepts of the law. Imagine the anarchical society we would be living in if there were no rules and each person followed his or her conscience?
If opposition parties believe so much in conscience, why are they fragmented and not united as one bloc? These are just words used to confuse and frighten people while gains of political freedom are being eroded surreptitiously.
Now that the ConCourt has made a determination, Mbete must be given space to decide which voting methods she sees fit, without interference or undue pressure from the opposition, its media and other attention seekers.